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Reading the 11-point summaries of the GPH-MILF Peace Talks in Kuala Lumpur

When I used to cover Davao City, I have become more familiar with the GPH-MILF peace negotiations. Even if it is only the committees on the cessation of hostilities who meet, they issue a joint statement to some how shed light on the coverage of meeting.

I expected this from the talks in KL but the reports said there was none.This is not a good sign, if we look at it that way.  I think having no joint statement is more sincere an act, than forcing one when there is none.Is it right to have one just to play with symbolism?

Many people expected a lot from the talks. After that “historic” meeting in Japan between President Benigno Aquino III and the MILF’ chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, the stakes are high on “expediting the peace process”.

As a journalist who covered this from afar, my reading is, are we supposed to mistake “expediting the process” with taking short cuts? Unless we expected the negotiators to be rubbing on a bottle for a genie to make wishes easily his command. Read More…

NEVER FORGET!

Logo for the commemoration of the 1st anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre

In line with the commemoration of the 1st anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao, we are sharing this logo/patch.

You may use this instead of your present Facebook profile pix on Nov. 23 as a sign of your solidarity with the families of the victims, the journalists and media workers, and the rest of the world.

It was so far the biggest blow to journalists and journalism in the Philippines. Let this be a symbol of our collective cry for justice and for more protection for journalists, where ever they may be.

‘Boodle fight’ to ‘boodle peace’: from warriors to peace builders

Counting how many battles fought, enemies killed, and firearms recovered has been among the usual indicators in an official’s military scoreboard.

But it’s got to change, military officials tell new generation officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Mindanao.

Col. Julieto Ando, of the Eastern Mindanao Command, has stressed this point to junior military officers who attended the Operation Peace Course (OPKORS), a conflict management and peace building training, now on its seventh in a series, organized by the AFP, Balay Mindanao Foundation Inc. and other partners.

“Instead, count how many enemies you have convinced back to the folds of law,” Ando said in his presentation on “The Challenge: Towards Fresher Perspectives”.

He said it involves changing perspectives from calling “boodle fights” to “boodle peace” at the least to building consensus and partnerships with other stakeholders to win peace.

The new mindset for military operations in Mindanao, he said, calls for more focus on building rather than destroying. Read on.

EO 765: Good for bakers, bad for corn farmers

First published in MindaNews.com. President Arroyo signed Executive Order 765 in December 2008  claiming that  “reduction on tariff on food wheat would help stabilize the price of bread and other baked food products.” Unfortunately, former agriculture secretary Leonardo Montemayor said in a report that the order did not only include the lifting of tariff on importation of food wheat or milling wheat, the ingredient used to produce bread, but also on feed wheat, which like corn, is used as animal feed.

Excess feed wheat supply brought by the zero tariff has competed with local corn supply, Roderico Bioco founding chair of the Philippine Maize Federation Inc. told MindaNews.

The implementation of EO 765 has led to an estimated P6-billion losses in income for corn farmers and at least P1-billion loss in revenues for government, Montemayor, now a member of the House representing of the ABA-AKO party list, said.

The lowest price for yellow corn was P6.50 per kilo or P6, 500 per MT, lower than the production cost of P10.

The  Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) reported  last week that the price of corn had dropped from P 9 per kilo to P7.50 during a five-week period.

The executive order was effective until June 2009 but favoring sectors, including the livestock feed millers lobbied for the extension. The corn industry stakeholders such as the Philippine Maize Federation Inc. and ABA AKO party list lobbied against the extension. Read More…

Bishop Pacana: Let there be no silence in the peace process

While praying for silence in the battlefields, Bukidnon Bishop Honesto Pacana called on both government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to keep on talking and never to allow times of silence in the peace process.

Pacana said the silence of the guns is not enough unless there is continuing dialogue between the two parties.

The bishop described to MindaNews the peace process situation at the moment as “experiencing silence.” He said the ongoing hostilities are a proof of that as he appealed for a continuing peace process.

He has called for prayers among the Catholics for peace as they celebrate Christmas in his homily for the first morning mass on December 16 at the San Isidro Cathedral.

He has appealed to the faithful to include in their prayers peace in the country, especially in Mindanao.

Pacana said even if Bukidnon is not directly within conflict areas related to the GRP-MILF problem, it has its own peace issues.

Read a full report on MindaNews.com.


Good news that draws suspicion than anticipation

That the informal peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is due to resume soon offers a reflection in our role as informal observers of the peace process that gained hold, then lost it somehow.

The MindaNews report GRP, MILF ‘informal talks’ to start ‘possibly’ by Dec. 22 didn’t quite tell there is a reason to celebrate (even if the news comes before Christmas and a fear of worsening situation on the ground).

Of course any kind of talk is always better than any form of violence. We all wish for peace, not just for Christmas but once and for all –for good.

As much as we want to get excited, we can’t just lose hold off the ground. At one point this could be a genuine press release.

But it could also be to serve the interests of some parties.

We might have a peace talks fatigue but we also cannot afford to let war just unfold.

I am nosing for enough sincerity, the one that could get them to sit in front each panel and talk, and relieve Mindanawons from the stress.

On the appointment of new GRP panel chair

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has named Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis as chair of the new government panel that will resume peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), reports tell us.

But what I think is a striking reaction to this news is a comment from Prof. Abhoud Syed Lingga, executive director of the Cotabato City-based Institute of Bangsamoro Studies. 

He said in a story carried by MindaNews.com that whoever heads the government’s negotiating panel is “secondary in importance.” Read More…